No Evidence for The Immunocompetence Handicap Hypothesis

Discussion in 'Men's Health Forum' started by Michael Scally MD, May 11, 2018.

  1. Michael Scally MD

    Michael Scally MD Doctor of Medicine

    No Evidence for The Immunocompetence Handicap Hypothesis in Males

    The observations that testosterone might be immunosuppressive, form the basis for the immunocompetence handicap hypothesis (ICHH). According to ICHH only high-quality individuals can maintain high levels of testosterone and afford the physiological cost of hormone-derived immunosuppression.

    The animal and human studies that attempted to support the ICHH by precisely defined impairment of immunity associated with high testosterone levels are inconclusive. Furthermore, human studies have used only selected immune functions and varying testosterone fractions.

    This is the first study examining the relationship between multiple innate and adaptive immunity and serum levels of free testosterone, total testosterone, DHT and DHEA in ninety-seven healthy men. Free testosterone and marginally DHT levels were positively correlated with the strength of the influenza post-vaccination response. Total testosterone and DHEA showed no immunomodulatory properties.

    Our findings did not support ICHH assumptions about immunosuppressive function of androgens. In the affluent society studied here, men with higher levels of free testosterone could afford to invest more in adaptive immunity. Since the hormone-immune relationship is complex and may depend on multiple factors, including access to food resources, androgens should be treated as immunomodulators rather than implicit immunosuppressants.

    Nowak J, Pawłowski B, Borkowska B, Augustyniak D, Drulis-Kawa Z. No evidence for the immunocompetence handicap hypothesis in male humans. Scientific reports 2018;8:7392. No evidence for the immunocompetence handicap hypothesis in male humans
  2. Michael Scally MD

    Michael Scally MD Doctor of Medicine

    Gubbels Bupp MR, Jorgensen TN. Androgen-Induced Immunosuppression. Frontiers in immunology 2018;9:794.

    In addition to determining biological sex, sex hormones are known to influence health and disease via regulation of immune cell activities and modulation of target-organ susceptibility to immune-mediated damage. Systemic autoimmune disorders, such as systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis, and multiple sclerosis are more prevalent in females, while cancer shows the opposite pattern. Sex hormones have been repeatedly suggested to play a part in these biases. In this review, we will discuss how androgens and the expression of functional androgen receptor affect immune cells and how this may dampen or alter immune response(s) and affect autoimmune disease incidences and progression.